For those who know me, I am absolutely awful with spending my own money. I have had a job since I was 12 years old, starting with babysitting and then several part time jobs following that. But even though I have worked for the past 8 years, I have hardly any money to show for it. Why you ask? Because I never had a savings system. Until now!
My parents started this system a couple of years ago after my mom read a book called “Financial Peace”. This book offers easy to follow principles to gain personal control, financial security, and financial stability. The book details an envelope system of keeping track of your spending and helps you save too!
I just started this system a couple of months ago as I am going into my twenties and realize that I need to gain some control over my money for the future. I thought I was going to hate this system and feel like a little old person tracking my finances, but I am already feeling better about my spending and saving. Here is a basic version of what the system entails and how to start using it yourself!
01/Track Every Single Purchase
For at least two weeks, track every single purchase you make on a piece of paper. You do not need to share this list with anyone, it is for your eyes only. This is just necessary so you see what you spend most of your money on. For me, like many teens I know, my biggest spending came from fast food or restaurants with friends. From this, you can begin to make a realistic budget.
For my envelopes, my categories are:
- Phone Bill
- Vehicle Maintenance
These are the categories that I spend my money on, so I sat down and estimated how much I spend per year on each of these items.
03/Decide Your Weekly Contributions
Although the program suggests doing this part monthly or biweekly, I find that putting money in weekly to the envelopes is much more effective as you do not have to make the money last as long, even if it is smaller quantities. So, after deciding my annual spending on each category I then divided that total by 52 to determine how much money weekly should be going towards each envelope. As well as these envelope categories, there are also 2 unofficial categories for spending and savings. Each week, I get $40 spending money for things I may want that do not fit in these categories and the rest of the money from my pay-cheque after the envelopes and spending goes towards savings.
04/Create a Binder
I love organizing things and using my label maker, so this was a very fun step for me. You must create a small binder to track the status of the envelopes each week. For each envelope, I have a matching category in my binder that has a money tracking sheet. Whenever I put money into my envelopes or take out money, I have to track it on this sheet, as well as the current balance of the envelope after the transaction. This way, I can see how much money is in the envelope without having to count it 50 times a day, and it also makes me more accountable for how I am using the money for each category.
Once your binder, tracking sheets, and envelope amounts are set up, you are ready to start your financial journey with your next pay cheque. Once you get paid, look at your envelope weekly contributions, add them up, and go to the bank. My overall envelope contributions for the week are $200, but I need to go into a teller at the bank to withdraw this money because it needs to be in specific increments of 20’s, 10’s and 5’s to divide into each envelope. Once your envelopes start building up quite a bit, you can just use the machine to get twenties as all of your envelopes should be able to make change at that point.
Although $200 a week sounds like a lot of money for a 20-year-old to be needing every week, you must understand that I do not spend that $200 every week. I do not need beauty products, gifts, vehicle maintenance, etc. every week. These envelopes simply build and build until it comes time for me to need the envelope, and there will be a nice chunk of money in there for me to use. For example, my car has not needed repairs recently, but I am saving the money in that envelope in the event that it may need it in the future.
At first, I was not very motivated to begin this plan, but I knew that something had to be done to help my finances. I thought it was a worth a try, and I was right. This plan has already made me more mindful of my spending, and it is so satisfying to know that I am building my general savings as well as specific savings for vacation, date nights, etc.
For more in depth information on the system, I highly recommend you read Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace book.
Are you having financial problems and need help or do you have another money saving system you want to share? Let me know!
Happy money saving and spending, my friends!
Until next time,